Personal Writing

The disciplined pursuit of less but better

I’m making a bold declaration today: the Personal Systems Disruption weekend retreat that starts this evening is the final PSD retreat, perhaps ever, but almost certainly until 2023.

A number of summers ago, I read Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism. I LOVED it. I finished it and immediately reread it. I purchased copies for my staff. I’ve read it a number of times again in the years since. But reading and implementing new ideas are two entirely different things. I’m very good at one, much less good at the other. I’ll let you guess which is which.

When I first started emailing back and forth with Jessica Buchanan last month, she asked for some background on me. I started writing, and I just kept writing. That’s kind of my MO. I write to process what I am thinking, and I rarely go back and tighten things up—those of you who read this blog consistently are likely saying, “No kidding!”

I don’t do that because I think my every thought is so brilliant. Rather, I do it because seeing the process of how one person works through difficult emotional or intellectual problems has value, both for the writer and the reader. Too often, we see the “finished product” of someone’s writing, and it appears that they have all their ducks effortlessly in a row. My writing is proof that there is always a B side, aka, the mess that leads to the breakthrough. The mess is actually where I am most interested in meeting people.

Anyway, here’s a bit of what I wrote to Jessica:

One of my “challenges” is that I’m on a parallel, but often intersecting, double (more like triple) path:

Path 1) Daily Dose (twice weekly livestreams, one with guests and the original 27 blogs, videos and podcasts) is something that my husband Mazz and I would like to level up together into talks, being on podcasts, growing our own program and more. I love this work because I know it’s making a difference in our lives and the lives of others, but our audience is so tiny and we aren’t growing in any meaningful way. Plus, Mazz is a plant cell wall biochemist and a professor, so his schedule is fairly fixed.

Path 2) The Personal Systems Disruption retreats I offer are not generic, but I haven’t yet figured out how to differentiate myself enough to really get those to take off. By the end of the year, I will have held five of them for 29 people. Considering I just launched this all last Nov, that’s not terrible, but it’s not growing in any meaningful way. And they aren’t leading to anything more, which is what I want/need to occur. This is a path that I’m willing to drop (at least for 2022) in an effort to streamline and focus my time and energy to get traction in other areas. Not at all attached to anything else, really, except some of my blog posts.

Path 3) My extraordinary platform is my individual work (blogging, some livestreams and public talks), but it leans, in part, on my perspective of Mazz’s addiction, our journey back and overcoming the shame attached to it. This is my favorite path and the one that feels most likely to possibly expand. It’s also the easiest because it only depends on my ability to create, my schedule and my skills set.

Of course, what’s missing from this list is that very full time job I also manage. Technically speaking, I’m on four parallel paths all the time. No wonder I’m worn out!

What I realized in writing this email was that while I love Personal Systems Disruption work and feel like it’s a true calling, at this point in time, it’s not serving my larger purpose. It’s not leading to invited speaking gigs or the opportunity to write more content.

Then I remembered Essentialism. McKeown paraphrases Jim Collins’ famous idea: “Success becomes a catalyst for failure because it leads to…the undisciplined pursuit of more. The antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less but better.” He says you must explore, eliminate and build a platform for execution.

Much of this last half of the year has unconsciously been about letting go of more and trying, instead, to do less better. We took five weeks off of all content creation for Daily Dose, this blog and most of social media. We came back and reformatted Daily Dose from 5 episodes to 2 per week. I simplified both the Daily Dose and extraordinary newsletters. I’m repurposing archived content versus always writing new posts.

I had no idea until I wrote to Jessica that I need to set the PSD retreats down, at least for the foreseeable future. I feel a great sense of freedom, of released time and energy that’s been going toward something that isn’t what I should be putting my focus on right now.

Look at the 10-Day Miracle challenge card on the left in the photo above. That’s the card I created on my writing retreat 14 months ago. Before I had the Personal Systems Disruption vision, I articulated what I truly want: I want a paid speaking and writing life.


The disciplined pursuit of less but better. I invite you to get serious with me about the discipline you are bringing to your life. What aspects do you need to evaluate to see how you’re spending your time and energy? Do you want to do more for the sake of more or do you want to do less for the sake of making a more meaningful impact?

Discipline. Less. Better. | Explore. Eliminate. Build.

Let’s do this.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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